As 2007 turned to 2008, inevitable change occurred and the loss of two people connected with Titanic history, Frank Braynard and Barbara West Dainton, was keenly felt. Mrs. Dainton was the second-to-last known, living Titanic survivor and Frank Braynard was a virtual encyclopedia of shipping history. He was always willing to share his love of ships and, as a former newspaperman and other occupations that took him to New York’s storied piers lined with famous ships, he was extremely knowledgeable about the goings-on of the Atlantic greyhounds during their heyday.
Changes can also be seen in this issue. The Commutator’s format of the past ten years has a fresh look. Magazines, newspapers and other forms of hard copy are struggling in the age of the Internet where attractive visuals command attention. As news and current events go, we couldn’t imagine life without checking the ‘net daily. However, when it comes to reading for enjoyment, to sit down in a comfy chair at leisure, there is nothing like the printed page. To use food as a figure of speech––just as one can grab a sandwich at a fast food restaurant to feed oneself and be satisfied, The Commutator takes a different tack. As well as needing food for nourishment, we try to make your reading experience a pleasure like fine dining. We strive to serve a wonderful variety of tasty food that not only is stimulating mentally but also beautifully presented just as an entrée is plated artistically in a premier restaurant using color and composition to set off first-class ingredients.
Although Queen Mary became a floating hotel when she was withdrawn from service, it is popularly believed that such an idea had not been considered earlier when Mauretania, Homeric, Olympic, and Majestic were coming to the end of their Atlantic service. This is not true and there are some interesting references to the contrary. Olympic returned to Southampton on April 12th 1935, having completed 514 commercial crossings and 257 round trips from Southampton to New York. It would prove to be her final crossing, yet her summer cruise schedule had been canceled rather suddenly and rumors began to circulate regarding her future. Our focus is on the possibility that she was going to be sold for continued service, for less than a month after she had returned to Southampton, interest had been expressed by a French consortium who wished to operate Olympic as a Floating Hotel in the south of France.
Two years before the Titanic disaster and immediately following, there were a number of newspaper and other references that mention Gigantic in connection with the third sister in the Olympic-class. Researchers have found the name to be an interesting study as new information is made available. In The Gigantic Question the authors intend to provide a substantial analysis of a number of sources and take advantage of new evidence offering one of the most detailed assessments to date that the name Gigantic seemed to be more widespread than is commonly believed.
The need to adjust clocks daily on board traveling eastward or west was described in the first half of The Mystery of Time. The conclusion explains Time adjustments worked into the watch schedules of crew members adding complexity and possibly some confusion to the overall process and vessels such as Titanic, where clock adjustment came at midnight and was made so that clocks keeping Apparent Time Ship (ATS) would read 12:00 at local apparent noon the next day.
The story about Republic (I) appearing in a trade journal in 1872 shortly after her maiden arrival to New York is fascinating not only as a means to build public confidence in White Star Line ships after a disastrous voyage but also because it has one of the best detailed descriptions of early White Star liners that we have come across.
Contents in this Issue
Olympic, A Floating Hotel by Mark Chirnside.
Olympic’s Voyage from Southampton to Jarrow, Shields Gazette.
Barbara Dainton by Tim Trower and Phil Gowan.
The Mystery of Time, Part Two (Conclusion) by Samuel Halpern.
SeaPoste. Topics include Correction’s in Britannic’s breadth, inquiry about the kind of flooring on Titanic; a Newfoundland dog named Rigel; identifying a photo of a ship lowering lifeboats at night.
Remembering Frank Braynard by Ray Lepien.
Book Reviews by Tim Trower: Passenger Liners French Style; Passenger Liners American Style.
White Star’s Newest Liner – On Board Republic (I), The Manufacturer and Builder.
Front Cover: Olympic leaving Southampton for the last time5:30 pm, October 11, 1935.
Back Cover: Cover image of one of the last colored brochures in 1934 published for the White Star Line